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Federal recovery funds to help reduce diesel emission in Valley

POSTED July 10, 2009 9:17 p.m.

A number of Central Valley school buses and agricultural vehicles will soon be “greener” thanks to the millions of dollars from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant funds awarded to the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District.


The pollution control district was awarded $4 million to install diesel particulate filters on 190 2001 model year and newer diesel school buses and $2 million to repower 30 agricultural off-road vehicles with new engines that meet or exceed non-road diesel engine emission standards.


The district’s projects were two of over 100 that were submitted by the Pacific Southwest region of the Environmental Protection Agency in their ARRA competitive grant request of approximately $516 million.


About $25 million in stimulus funding was awarded to California to reduce diesel emissions. With the $55 million dollars in funding the pollution control district will receive from program partners for diesel emission reduction, it “makes this a truly significant program for California,” said Air Division Director Kerry Drake.


“We have some of the worst air quality in the country, therefore these grants not only boost the economy, but also help protect our residents,” Drake said.


The retrofitting school buses project is expected to reduce particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide emissions, thereby protecting the health of children who ride the buses daily. The 190 school buses chosen to be retrofitted came from across the district and include buses from Livingston Union Schools, Winton School District, Riverbank Schools, Oakdale Joint Unified, Merced River School, Los Banos Unified and Modesto City Schools.


Each school district had previously applied to the pollution control district for funding to upgrade their buses. With the grant award and leveraged funds with Proposition 1B Lower Emission School Bus Program funds of over $39 million, the district will now be able to move forward with the project.


The agricultural off-road vehicle repowering project is expected to significantly reduce particular matter, nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide emissions. The 30 vehicles chosen for the program include vehicles from Turlock, Oakdale and Gustine.


Although the district submitted $70 million worth of projects and was awarded only $6 million, the funding is expected to not only reduce diesel emissions in the Central Valley, but also create and maintain jobs for the agriculture and engine manufacturing and sales industries.
The pollution control district is still awaiting word on another grant request of over $70 million.


“While we’re happy with the award we received and with the grant opportunity, we would have been happier with more considering our unique air quality situation (in the San Joaquin Valley),” said Samir Sheikh, the pollution control district’s director of the Emission Reduction Incentive Program.


Other state grant awards include $8 million to the California Air Resources Board to repower eight switch yard locomotives in the Southern California region, $4 million for replacements and/or engine retrofits for 112 pieces of cargo handling equipment at the Port of Long Beach, and $2 million to retrofit 81 trucks with diesel particulate filters at the Port of Oakland.
To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail khacker@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.

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